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I Smell a Spy

The air was stale and hot like a pot of river water on a bonfire. Maenad lowered his handkerchief and breathed in a volume of dry atmosphere. Sand gritted across his pale, white teeth and stuck to his tongue like flies on honey. His eyes ravaged the landscape before him for any trackers that could have followed the hover stagecoach in to the lowlands. The area seemed clear, for now but Maenad knew better than to trust his own senses on this one. Everyone who was educated about the electoral process knew to watch their assets closely during this time of year. There was sure to have been a few political figures that had seen them leave Balballing and wondered where they were headed off to. If they weren’t careful they would all wake up to the barrel of a gun pointed at their heads, and believe me no one wanted to wake up to the barrel of a gun pointing at their head. That had happened twice for Maenad, both times found him in jail. It was William T. Smash that finally released him and promised him that if he could stop the Flying Bullet he could go free.

Someone had to have seen us leaving Balballing in the hovering stagecoach, thought Maenad pensively. No one is stupid enough to believe that we are just coming out here to secure voters for reelection on Tuesday, no one. There is a spy somewhere, and if he is not out there following us in the doom and gloom, then he is in the company listening to our conversations. Maenad’s thoughts turned to all of the men sitting in the cab with them on the way over. He didn’t know any of them too well, but he had a hunch who the weasel might be. He would have to keep his eyes open. Everything would be revealed in its due time.

“What do you see out there, Maenad?” asked Jim from behind.

Maenad didn’t turn. “Nothing yet.”

“Are we being followed by the sheriff?”

Maenad reached into his pocket and pulled out a dark leather bag. His rough fingers threw open the tie clip and reached inside for a drag. He wanted to laugh at the “are we being followed by the sheriff” comment. This kid was constantly in story mode.

“My guess is that we are all going to be safe for the tonight, kid,” he lied boldly to the young city-slicker as he pulled out a rolled cigarette. He often lied to keep people from panicking and ruining his plans. He turned to face the boy standing behind him. “Did you get the rope I asked you for?”

“Yes, sir, I did.”

“Let me see it.”

Jim threw the rope to him without question. Maenad caught the thing and swung it under his arm. His reflexes were still sharper than ever. It was amazing what adrenaline fuelled revenge could do to the human mind. Maenad hadn’t felt this focused sense before the bank robbery with his brother, back when he was still alive.

“Frank wants to give us training on the complicated equipment before night fall. He said he would rather us do it in daylight than twilight.” Jim looked back at the roaring campfire behind him. The flames seemed to dance gracefully, like a bunch of showgirls against the back drop of the desert. A group of men were waiting for them to return with the news about the tracker. They wanted to know whether they could keep the fire burning tonight. City slickers always needed a big roaring campfire to keep them safe at night; Maenad never understood why. It seemed foolish to him to give away their position.

“Let’s go back then and give them the good news,” said Maenad flatly. He eyeballed the group standing by the equipment that Governor Smash was providing them with; he didn’t trust a single one of them. None of the City-Slickers knew how to survive out in the Tarmac Desert for months on end. None of them knew how to find a tracker from a mile away. This only gave Maenad the advantage over them should anything happen. I’ll find you soon spy, thought Maenad as he blew out a puff of smoke and headed for the group.

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